BBC Digital Media Initiative to close having spent £98.4m

The BBC has announced that it is to close its Digital Media Initiative (DMI), as the project has “wasted a huge amount of Licence Fee payers’ money”…

Beginning in 2008, the DMI set out to move the BBC’s production and archive operations to a fully integrated, digital way of working. The decision to close the DMI follows an operational review of the project which was launched in October 2012.

The report found that the DMI was not going to deliver on its stated objectives and as a result BBC Director-General, Tony Hall, took the decision to close it with the agreement of the BBC Trust. The total cost to the BBC will be £98.4m.

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The project set out to create new digital production tools and link them with a central, digital archive that would allow BBC staff to access a seamless digital chain throughout the production process, from camera to archive. The BBC has worked digitally for some time, and the DMI aimed to bring those processes together so that everything could be accessed from the same system and stored on a computer.

The individual components of the DMI were: new production tools that could be used to create content digitally on a desktop; a store to house the newly created digital content; a database to search BBC archives and a place to store production reports digitally.

“The DMI project has wasted a huge amount of Licence Fee payers’ money and I saw no reason to allow that to continue which is why I have closed it,” said Hall.

Following the decision to close the project, the BBC Trust has launched an independent review to establish what went wrong and why.

“I have serious concerns about how we managed this project and the review that has been set up is designed to find out what went wrong and what lessons can be learned. Ambitious technology projects like this always carry a risk of failure, it does not mean we should not attempt them but we have a responsibility to keep them under much greater control than we did here,” Hall added.